It is more important than ever to start shining a spotlight on diversity within the energy industry. While the market has recently experienced more women filling executive level roles, there is still a long way to go until workforce representation is truly diverse.
With Gastech 2018 around the corner, Gastech Insights spoke with ‘Diversity in Energy’ speaker and Senior Vice President, Strategy & Marketing at SNC-Lavalin, Maggie Seeliger, to hear her views on new industry norms and the latest initiatives driving change.
Gastech Insights: As awareness grows for the importance of new industry norms, do you believe gender diversity will still be an issue in the next 5 years?
Maggie Seeliger: Gender diversity will be an issue long past the next five years. While technology has incrementally reduced time cycles for change, societal change traditionally moves at a much slower pace. The UN in 2014 published a plan calling for the end of all forms of discrimination based on gender by 2030, which includes legislation, gender-based violence, and equal access to education, employment opportunities and pay for work of equal value. That’s a tall order, but one we must strive to achieve.
That said, I’m pleased by how effective younger generations are pushing for social change and hope they can lead the way to shorten what many consider a 20 to 50-year process. The change will be best achieved by increasing dialogue among diverse groups and embracing young and new employees into existing conversations.
Gastech Insights: We are seeing more organisations push for greater equality in the workplace; do SNC-Lavalin have any initiatives in place?
Maggie Seeliger: At SNC-Lavalin, diversity and inclusion is an integral part of our culture. We have set diversity targets, created resource groups, provide training, and improved our recruiting and retention efforts.. One example is NISSA, which means “woman” in Arabic, and is our networking and inclusion group in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. We also engage with a number of diversity-focused organizations globally such as the Canadian 30% Club and have received numerous industry awards for diversity. And we have seen a marked change in our company as a result.
Gastech Insights: What originally inspired you to work in the energy industry and what continues to keep you?
Maggie Seeliger: What originally inspired me to work in this industry was the challenge of marketing the value of highly complex, technical products and services to customers in a clear way. When companies connect the dots between customer needs and their offering, they gain tremendous value.
Looking back, I used to think that not having an engineering or another similar background was a disadvantage. Then I heard Vicki Hollub, CEO of Oxy, speaking at an industry event, say that everyone brings unique technical expertise, in every profession. It reframed my thinking and made me realize that not only are analysis, strategy and marketing technical skills, they are rarely done well in our industry, which presents a big advantage and opportunity.
Going forward, marketing is transitioning to customer experience (Cx), where improving customer satisfaction is the key driver and focus for business growth, I’m excited to lead the implementation of Cx in our oil and gas business. In line with this, we are heavily focused on improving our operations and services, which includes not only improved digital technology but also completely different ways of working. Our acquisition of Atkins in 2017 gave us tremendous capability in this area.
On a personal level, I am very involved in mentoring others and getting involved in associations that focus on diversity and empowerment and really enjoy making a difference in other peoples’ lives.
Gastech Insights: You are speaking at the ‘Diversity in Energy’ conference at Gastech 2018; why are events like this important?
Maggie Seeliger: The growing number of women in the industry need to have a mechanism to connect with and learn from others who share common thoughts and experiences. Cultural and gender bias still exist today.
My challenge to our industry is to transition this issue from segregated, special events to the main agenda of leading conferences. Once that becomes the standard then that will be tremendous progress.
There are also a number of talented women working in the industry who are not typically at the executive or president level yet, so they don’t come up for consideration for speaking opportunities that are typically at that level. That’s a huge opportunity for Gastech and others to introduce a fresh perspective.
If you would like to hear more from Ms Seeliger, register for your Gastech 2018 delegate pass today to hear the panel discussion on “What Role do Employee-led Diversity Networks Play in Creating Greater Equality in the Workplace” at the Diversity in Energy conference.
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